Michael Beale watched his Academy players being split into two camps - those on the same side as Steven Gerrard and those tasked with going head-to-head with the iconic midfield general at Melwood.

The international break had brought another opportunity for Liverpool's youngsters to test their skills against first-team stars, in front of Brendan Rodgers and his staff, but Beale noticed something a little different where Gerrard was concerned.

"We never want to feel too comfortable at Melwood because our first priority is our work here at Kirkby," he told Liverpoolfc.com ahead of his U21 side's eagerly anticipated clash against Southampton at Anfield tonight.

"But Melwood is where the players want to get to and so you do see an extra level in their training, especially when Stevie is in their team or when they are playing against him. That's good to see - the players testing themselves against him and the other senior players.

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"It was a luxury to go to Melwood over the last week. There were 14 or 15 players going across to work with Brendan Rodgers, Colin Pascoe, Mike Marsh and the rest of the first-team staff. The attitude of the first-team players was outstanding and that sent a message to our players.

"Gerrard was back there, as well as Mario Balotelli, Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique and Fabio Borini - so it's been a fantastic experience for the lads."

After a satisfying week introducing players to the intensity of the club's day-to-day home at Melwood, all focus at the Academy has shifted to what promises to be another memorable night for the youngsters at the true home of the Reds - Anfield.

Southampton are the opposition for tonight's 7pm BST kick-off - and Beale and his players are hoping to thrive off the energy provided from the stands by the fans who attend. For more information on how you can turn out in support of the young Reds tonight, click here.

Two players who have already sampled Anfield at its capacity - and are both available to feature for the U21s this evening - are Jordan Williams and Jordan Rossiter, who turned in impressive displays during the dramatic Capital One Cup penalty shootout victory over Middlesbrough in September.

Beale insists their achievements with the senior side have been used as an added incentive to  the entire Academy, as he, Alex Inglethorpe and the rest of the coaching staff aim to propel more prospects to Melwood.

"If you said to me at the end of this year we'd win the U21s championship, but Jordan Rossiter and Jordan Williams would not have made their debuts, I'd be disappointed," said the boss.

"My job is to try to push players, along with Alex and the other Academy staff, towards Brendan and the first team. So as long as we're getting players there, I'll be happy.

"Rossiter and Williams making their debuts gives us a further incentive. International breaks are fantastic for that because the majority of the first team go away. So for the young players who are not on international duty, they get to go there for a longer period of time.

"It's not just for the odd session - they get to go there for a number of days. They really get to show the manager and staff what they are about and I think that's what Williams and Rossiter did previously. It took fantastic character from them and real good personality to go there and show that they can play."